We know from our annual Women’s Health Survey that sleep and fatigue are big issues for many women in Australia. Nearly half of the women who completed our survey reported having trouble sleeping on several days, which wasn’t surprising; research tells us that sleep disturbances are common in women across the lifespan, and about 90% of people will have some kind of sleep disturbance at some point in their life.
When you think about our busy modern lives, it’s no wonder so many of us have issues with sleep and fatigue – our quality of sleep is under threat by longer working hours, more screen time and pressing day-to-day worries that can keep us up at night.
As you may have also learned from our content yesterday on physical activity, low iron levels (particularly in women with heavy periods) and not moving enough during the day can also leave us feeling tired.
So why are you tired? And importantly, what can you do about it? Here are some facts, stats and research-based tips to guide you through, from A to Zzz.
So as you can see, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity for our long-term wellbeing. And if you’re one of the many women not getting enough pillow time, this week is the time to start doing something about it!
Don’t chop and change. It’s important to have a good routine of going to bed and getting up around the same time – even on weekends. It helps to settle your sleep patterns.
There is no magic number when it comes to sleep duration, but most women should aim for 7-9 hours a night. Try keeping a sleep diary or tracking your sleep hours with an app.
The bite of the blue. Most screens project blue light, and smaller screens especially so. Researchers at Harvard University found that blue light is particularly bad for blocking the sleep hormone melatonin, affecting sleeping patterns. So turn off those screens at least two hours before bedtime.
Easy fixes to cut down your screen time. Keep your phone out of your bedroom and choose good old-fashioned books over e-readers.
The catch-22 of caffeine. Australians who consume more caffeine sleep less, and those that sleep less, consume more caffeine. Help stop the cycle by being aware of your caffeine intake. Why not try a relaxing herbal tea near bedtime? Our naturopath Sandra Villella has some suggestions.
Fatigue-fighters: exercise vs coffee. A small study found that 10 minutes of brisk exercise was more energising for young women than caffeine. So next time you’re craving that mid-afternoon coffee, go for a quick power-walk instead.
You can’t catch up on sleep. So don’t try by putting yourself to bed early. Your clever brain is wired to seek quality over quantity, so will catch you up by making you sleep deeper rather than longer.
If you have problems with sleep or ongoing tiredness, choose a few of these tips and start reaping the rewards. The time is now!
So that brings us to the end of Women’s Health Week, but guess what? Your journey to a healthier you is only just beginning.
Still want more information on sleep and fatigue? Take a look at the page below. And don't forget to flip to page 7 to download your limited edition illustration by Australian artist Belinda Suzette.
Visit the Jean Hailes Kitchen for delicious recipes with real health benefits.Browse the recipes
An hour before bed, why not try a herbal tea blend to enhance sleep?
The Jean Hailes website has lots more information on sleep and fatigue.Learn more
Read an interview with Belinda Suzette, the illustrator and designer behind our Women's Health Week artwork. We asked about her art practice and the process behind her creation, Breathe. Don't forget to download the illustration by clicking the image above.Read the interview
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